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John Sidney McCain III (August 29, 1936 – August 25, 2018) was an American politician, statesman and United States Navy officer who served as a United States Senator for Arizona from 1987 until his death in 2018.
McCain graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1958 and received a commission in the United States Navy. He became a naval aviator and flew ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, McCain almost died in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire.
While on a bombing mission during Operation Rolling Thunder over Hanoi in October 1967, he was shot down. And he was seriously injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. McCain was a prisoner of war until 1973. He experienced episodes of torture and refused an out-of-sequence early release. During the war, McCain sustained wounds that left him with lifelong physical disabilities. He retired from the Navy as a captain in 1981 and moved to Arizona, where he entered politics.
In 1982, McCain was elected to the United States House of Representatives, where he served two terms. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, succeeding the 1964 Republican presidential nominee and conservative icon Barry Goldwater upon his retirement.
McCain easily won reelection five times. While generally adhering to conservative principles, McCain also gained a reputation as a “maverick” for his willingness to break from his party on certain issues, including LGBT rights, gun regulations, and campaign finance reform where his stances were more moderate than those of the party’s base.
McCain was investigated and largely exonerated in a political influence scandal of the 1980s as one of the Keating Five; he then made regulating the financing of political campaigns one of his signature concerns, which eventually resulted in passage of the McCain–Feingold Act in 2002. He was also known for his work in the 1990s to restore diplomatic relations with Vietnam.
1997-2001 , 2003-2005
McCain chaired the Senate Commerce Committee from 1997 to 2001 and 2003 to 2005, where he opposed pork barrel spending and earmarks. He belonged to the bipartisan “Gang of 14”, which played a key role in alleviating a crisis over judicial nominations.
McCain entered the race for the Republican nomination for president in 2000 but lost a heated primary season contest to Governor George W. Bush of Texas. He secured the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, beating fellow candidates Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, though he lost the general election to Barack Obama.
McCain subsequently adopted more orthodox conservative stances and attitudes and largely opposed actions of the Obama administration, especially with regard to foreign policy matters. In 2015, he became Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
He refused to support then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in 2016; McCain won re-election to a sixth and final term that same year. McCain was a vocal critic of the Trump administration. While McCain opposed the Affordable Care Act, he cast the deciding vote against the ACA-repealing American Health Care Act of 2017.
After being diagnosed with brain cancer (Glioblastoma) in 2017, he reduced his role in the Senate in order to focus on treatment, and supported the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. He died on August 25, 2018, aged 81. Following his death, McCain lay in state in the Arizona State Capitol rotunda and then in the United States Capitol rotunda. Bush and Barack Obama giving eulogies.
His grandfather, John S. McCain Sr., called “Sid” or “Slew,” was the first of the family to attend the United States Naval Academy, and the first to become a naval aviator, earning his wings at the age of fifty. As a passed midshipman, he served in the Philippines on a gunboat skippered by Chester Nimitz, and sailed home to America on the flagship of Teddy Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet.”
The Senator’s colorful great uncle, Brigadier General “Wild Bill” McCain was a West Point graduate, and served under General Pershing in Mexico. Another West Point graduate, General Henry Pinkney McCain, fought in the Battle of Manila, was adjutant general of the Army and established the selective service during World War One.
Various McCains served in the armies of the Confederacy during the Civil War, one branch of the family having settled in the mid-19th Century on a plantation in Carrol County, Mississippi.
The Senator was the second of Jack and Roberta McCain’s three children, arriving after his older sister, Sandy, and before his younger brother, Joe. His early life was nomadic as the family accompanied his father to various duty stations.
One of the Senator’s earliest memories was the December afternoon in 1941, when a black sedan pulled up in front of the family’s home in New London, Connecticut, and an officer called out to his father, “Jack, the Japs have bombed Pearl Harbor.”
His father got into the car and drove off. The McCain children saw little of their father over the next four years, as the submarine skipper patrolled the Atlantic off North Africa, and hunted Japanese destroyers in the Pacific. McCain Senior was in charge of all land based aircraft during the Guadalcanal campaign, and in the last year of the war, he commanded the fast carrier task group under Admiral William “Bull” Halsey.
Early life and education
John Sidney McCain III was born on August 29, 1936, at Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone, to naval officer John S. McCain Jr. and Roberta (Wright) McCain. He had an older sister, Sandy, and a younger brother, Joe. At that time, the Panama Canal was under U.S. control.
McCain’s family tree includes Scotch-Irish and English ancestors. His great-great-great-grandparents owned High Rock Farm, a plantation in Rockingham County, North Carolina. His father and his paternal grandfather, John S. McCain Sr., were also Naval Academy graduates and both became four-star admirals in the United States Navy. The McCain family moved with their father as he took various naval postings in the United States and in the Pacific.
As a result, the younger McCain attended a total of about 20 schools. In 1951, the family settled in Northern Virginia, and McCain attended Episcopal High School, a private preparatory boarding school in Alexandria. He excelled at wrestling and graduated in 1954. He referred to himself as an Episcopalian as recently as June 2007, after which date he said he came to identify as a Baptist.
McCain at the Naval Academy, 1954
Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, McCain entered the United States Naval Academy, where he was a friend and informal leader for many of his classmates and sometimes stood up for targets of bullying. He also fought as a lightweight boxer.
Nicknamed “John Wayne” “for his attitude and popularity with the opposite sex.” McCain did well in academic subjects that interested him, such as literature and history, but studied only enough to pass subjects that gave him difficulty, such as mathematics.
He came into conflict with higher-ranking personnel and did not always obey the rules. “He collected demerits the way some people collect stamps.” His class rank (894 of 899) was not indicative of his intelligence nor his IQ. McCain graduated in 1958.
For the McCains, that meant nine people involved in a complex 2008 campaign against eventual President Barack Obama. John McCain, wife Cindy and all seven McCain children entered the public eye. They entered at the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota.
But who are they?
The McCain household, like so many in America, is a blend. Navigating through the McCain family album might require a road map.
When John McCain married his first wife, Carol, he adopted her sons from a previous marriage. Doug, 58, was a Navy pilot like his father and now is a captain for American Airlines. Andy, 56, is a Vanderbilt graduate and chief operating officer at the family beer distribution company, Hensley & Co.
He also has ties to many Arizona sports, including as former chairman of the board for the Fiesta Bowl and on Arizona’s host committee for the Super Bowl.
John and Carol McCain had eldest daughter Sidney, who is now 51. And she worked in the music business in Toronto while her father ran his 2008 campaign. She was born in 1966, one year before her father’s plane was shot down over Vietnam.
Meghan, 33, has become the most visible of McCain’s seven children. The Columbia University grad ascended to the spotlight as a constant presence on her father’s 2008 campaign. She wrote about her experiences on the road at McCainBlogette.com, cultivated a following on Twitter. And she eventually wrote two books, including “My Dad, John McCain,” a children’s book released during the campaign. Meghan now works for ABC News and is a host on “The View.”
McCain’s two younger sons both served in the military. Jimmy, a 30-year-old who is an ex-Marine, served a tour in Iraq.Jack, 32, graduated from the Naval Academy. And he shares a love for NASCAR with his mother. He shares a name, John “Jack” Sidney McCain IV, with his father.